Review: Merrily We Roll Along

BB Theatre Productions
C (Venue 34) 8 – 12 Aug 2017

4 Stars (4 / 5)

“What do you do?” “I drink!” “But what do you really do?” “I really drink!”

The public love Frank… his ex-wife and old friends are not so sure. He was once more motivated by passion than money and success and Merrily… takes a backwards stroll through his life to reveal the humble beginnings, when friendship took precedence over the public eye.

Merrily… is a movie of many touching moments sprinkled with the lyrical prowess of Stephen Sondheim, one of musical theatre’s greatest songwriters. Like Company, upon which he also collaborated with George Furth, the show hints at some deep philosophical issues surrounding our priorities in life.

There are some startling performances. Lucy Smith as Beth, Frank’s first wife, has a most rousing voice, and Emma Carver transcends with ultimate sass as Gussy – his second wife who now finds herself in the position she put his first in, watching him chase a younger model. There were some technical difficulties around sound and the portrayal of Frank was sometimes somewhat laboured, while the show could benefit from a more natural feel. The book rather whittles out than ends. Nonetheless the overall experience is most enjoyable, a stand out song – Frank Shepard Inc. – amusingly satirises the busy lifestyle of busy Frank taking constant interruptions from his writing partner Charlie who becomes unhinged and increasingly dissatisfied with his increasing lack of availability.